Senate
House
Joint
Bill Status
WV Code
Audits/ Reports
Educational
Contact
home
home

Introduced Version House Bill 3322 History

   |  Email


hb3322 intr
H. B. 3322


(By Delegates Miley and R. Thompson)
[Introduced March 25, 2005; referred to the
Committee on Banking and Insurance then the Judiciary.]




A BILL to amend and reenact §33-2-16, §33-2-17 and §33-2-18 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, all relating to the Office of Consumer Advocacy.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §33-2-16, §33-2-17 and §33-2-18 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 2. INSURANCE COMMISSIONER.
§33-2-16. Office of Consumer Advocacy established; appointed by Governor; Director of Consumer Advocacy; promulgation of rules.

There is hereby created within the agency of the Insurance commissioner the Office of Consumer Advocacy. The Director of the Office of Consumer Advocacy shall be a full-time position and shall be appointed by the commissioner Governor, with the consent of the Senate for a term of four years, roughly to coincide with the term of the Governor and may be discharged only for failure to carry out the duties of the office or for other good and sufficient cause.
The Insurance Commissioner shall provide office space, equipment and supplies for the office completely separate and apart from that of the other departments of the Insurance Commission.
The Director shall promulgate rules pursuant to article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, in order to effect the purposes of this section, section seventeen, and section eighteen of this article.
On or before the first day of each regular session of the Legislature, the Director shall file with the Governor, the clerk of the Senate and the clerk of the House of Delegates, a report detailing the actions taken by the Division in the preceding calendar year.
§33-2-17. Authority of Office of Consumer Advocacy; retroactive effect of authority prohibited.

(a) In addition to the authority established under the rules promulgated by the Director, the Office of Consumer Advocacy is authorized to:
(1) Institute, intervene in, or otherwise participate in, as an advocate for the public interest and the interests of insurance consumers, proceedings in state and federal courts, before administrative agencies, or before the Health Care Cost Review Authority, concerning applications or proceedings before the Health Care Cost Review Authority or the review of any act, failure to act, or order of the Health Care Cost Review Authority;
(2) At the request of one or more policyholders, or whenever the public interest is served, to advocate the interests of those policyholders in proceedings arising out of any filing made with the Insurance Commissioner by any insurance company or relating to any complaint alleging an unfair or deceptive act or practice in the business of insurance;
(3) Institute, intervene in, or otherwise participate in, as an advocate for the public interest and the interests of insurance consumers, proceedings in state and federal courts, before administrative agencies, or before the Insurance Commissioner, concerning applications or proceedings before the Commissioner or the review of any act, failure to act, or order of the Insurance Commissioner;
(4) Review and compile information, data and studies of the reasonable and customary rate schedules of health care providers and health insurers, for the purposes of reviewing, establishing, investigating, or supporting any policy regarding health care provider or insurance rates;
(5) Exercise all the same rights and powers regarding issuance of subpoenas, examination and cross-examination of witnesses, presentation of evidence, rights of appeal and other matters as any party in interest appearing before the Insurance Commissioner, or the Health Care Cost Review Authority, or a court;
(6) Hire consultants, experts, lawyers, actuaries, economists, statisticians, accountants, clerks, stenographers, support staff, assistants, and other personnel necessary to carry out the provisions of this section and sections sixteen and eighteen of this article, which personnel shall be paid from special revenue funds appropriated for the use of the office;
(7) Contract for the services of technically qualified persons in the area of insurance matters to assist in the preparation and presentation of matters before the courts, the Insurance Commissioner, administrative agencies, or the Health Care Cost Review Authority, which persons shall be paid from special revenue funds appropriated for the use of the office;
(8) Make recommendations to the Legislature concerning legislation to assist the office in the performance of its duties;
(9) Communicate and exchange data and information with other federal or state agencies, divisions, departments, or officers, and with other interested parties including, but not limited to, health care providers, insurance companies, consumers or other interested parties; and
(10) Perform other duties to effect the purposes of the office.
(b) The provisions of this section do not apply to any filing made by an insurance company, or act or order performed or issued by the Commissioner, or complaint filed by a policyholder with the Commissioner prior to the thirtieth day of June, one thousand nine hundred ninety-one. All proceedings and orders in connection with these prior matters shall be governed by the law in effect at the time of the filing, or performance or issuance of the act or order.
(c) The scope of authority granted under this section and section sixteen of this article is restricted to matters related to health care costs and health insurance policies, subscriber contracts issued by organizations under article twenty-four of this chapter, health care corporations under article twenty-five of this chapter, health maintenance organizations under article twenty-five-a of this chapter, contracts supplemental to health insurance policies, and other matters related to health insurance issues identified by rules of the commissioner promulgated under section one of this article and chapter twenty-nine-a of this code.
§33-2-18. Funding and independence.

The Office of Consumer Advocacy shall be funded in an amount to be appropriated by the Legislature from special revenue funds separate from any other division of the Insurance Commission.
(a) The initial funding for the Office of the Consumer Advocate for the fiscal year July first, two thousand five, through June thirtieth, two thousand six, shall be in the amount appropriated to the Insurance Commissioner for the Office of Consumer Advocate by the two thousand five Legislature.
(b) The current Director of Consumer Advocacy or such other appointee of the Commissioner shall continue until the inauguration of a Governor in January, two thousand nine, at which time the Governor will appoint, with the consent of the Senate, a director of consumer advocacy as shall each Governor thereafter. The new Director of the Office of Consumer Advocacy will submit his or her own request for appropriation for the next fiscal year separate from that submitted on behalf of the rest of the Insurance Commission.
The new Director of the Office of Consumer Advocacy shall, in his or her sole discretion, make the selection of the hirees and contractees referred to in subdivision six and seven of subsection (a), section seventeen of this article.




NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to make the Office of Consumer Advocacy independent of the Insurance Commission.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.
This Web site is maintained by the West Virginia Legislature's Office of Reference & Information.  |  Terms of Use  |   Web Administrator   |   © 2014 West Virginia Legislature **